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Edgerly Cemetery unveiled, Binyard family honored at MCAS Beaufort

By Lance Cpl. Jonah Lovy | Marine Aircraft Group 31 | September 21, 2015

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A ceremony unveiling Edgerly Cemetery was held aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort Sept. 18.

The site is located behind the Bachelor Officers Quarters and contains graves from the Edgerly Plantation dating back to the early 1860s.

Many of the graves in Edgerly are unmarked but the resting place of Stephen Binyard has recently been discovered thanks to the efforts of the MCAS Beaufort Cultural Resources Team and Kimberly Morgan, a local genealogist, and Akosua Moore, a descendant of Edgerly Plantation.

“When we started, ,”there was a jungle of bushes and vines and there was trash everywhere,” said Morgan. Now it’s been cleaned up and properly marked which is indicative of the respect that the graves deserve.”

Binyard was born a slave on Edgerly Plantation in 1840. After he was freed from slavery in 1863, Binyard joined the Union Army’s U.S. Colored Troops Division and was among the first African-American men to join the Army in South Carolina. Binyard and his family bought a piece of land on Edgerly Plantation in 1866 after he left the Army which is now the site of the cemetery.

In addition to her role in the clean-up, Morgan was also responsible for discovering Binyard’s grave and tracing his family tree to living descendants. Her research led her to Akosua Moore, a descendant of the Edgerly Plantation who was researching her family tree at the same time as Morgan. Moore was able to get many relatives of the Binyard family, and other Edgerly Plantation descendants, to attend the ceremony.

 “This gathering is huge because there are people here that you can’t see,” said Moore. “I know our ancestors are here with us today.”

The whole project began in 2013 when Morgan began doing the research and soon it became a very personal project to her. She reached out to Moore later that year and shared the information she found about Moore’s family.

“It’s hard to put into words,” said Morgan. “I’m just so proud and really happy that this day came. When I went into the woods and found the grave, it was an incredibly emotional moment for me. Over the years, I feel like I have grown closer to Stephen (Binyard) as a person and now I can become closer to our whole family.”

The clean-up work officially began in September 2014 when Morgan convinced the Cultural Resource Team to assist with her mission.

“He deserved better than the state of his grave so the first step had to be getting it cleaned up,” said Gary Herndon, the Cultural Resources Manager aboard MCAS Beaufort. “We had to find a way to better preserve his memory. As Kimberly found more and more facts about his family it became more important to us to honor his resting place.”

Seeing the restored gravesite of their ancestor brought bitter-sweet tears to many family members. Honoring Binyard’s burial place is just the first step towards an ambitious goal.   

“This isn’t the end of the journey,” said Morgan. “We plan to do some more landscaping in the fall once the weather gets cooler and the bugs and snakes go away. We are going to put down some mulch around the graves, plant some flowers, and possibly put a bench overlooking the creek.”

Morgan and Herndon also have plans to begin work on other cemeteries located aboard MCAS Beaufort.

“The next place we plan on cleaning up is the baker cemetery across from Afterburners,” said Herndon. “There are still a lot of people in the Beaufort area that have their family buried here and we want to give them the respect they deserve.”

Morgan’s dedication and perseverance has brought long lost family members back together while restoring a piece of history. 

“My parents taught me to treat other people the way you want to be treated,” said Morgan. “If somebody found my great grandfather’s grave hidden in the woods I hope that they would treat it with honor and respect.”

One of the greatest outcomes of the work of Kimberly Morgan and Akosua Moore may be the friendship that has been forged between them.

Being a math teacher, I know parallel lines don’t intersect,” said Moore. “Somehow, Kimberly’s line and my line intersected in 2013 and got us working on this project. We are family now.”


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